It's almost summer, when everything slows downs just a bit. Kids out of school, family vacations, and most of us looking for opportunities to enjoy the summer weather. Unfortunately, just like the summer sun can dry up even the greenest lawns, our sales pipelines can be reduced to a trickle if we don’t remain disciplined with our lead generation efforts. Below are some lead generation ideas that can ensure that your summer fun doesn’t turn into a winter misery of missed revenue targets.
- Re-engage and interact with your LinkedIn and Twitter network. Most sales professionals have done a great job of building a vast network of colleagues, former business associates, clients, prospects and friends. But when was the last time you interacted with these valuable contacts? Reach out to them again. Remind them about what you do and the solutions you offer. Share some insights that reveal your subject matter expertise. And look for opportunities to help solve their business problems.
- Ask for referrals. While you’re engaged with your network, ask them for referrals. But don’t stop there. Pick up the phone and talk to your customers. You’ve provided valuable business solutions to them — who do they know that might need your help as well? If you don’t ask, they probably won’t tell.
- Join LinkedIn groups and participate in discussions. There are over a million groups on LinkedIn and they are as varied as the LinkedIn members who start them. Find relevant groups that your target prospects are members of and join them. Look for discussion topics and questions that you can respond to. And better yet, start a discussion and solicit feedback from group members. Remember, people in these forums aren’t looking to be sold to, so don’t give them your pitch. Instead, educate them. Tell them something they don’t already know. This is a great opportunity to display your subject matter expertise and build your network — and you may just uncover a few leads in the process.
- Attend local networking groups. This may be the “old-school” way to network, but it can still be effective. It gives you an opportunity to tell your story, make new connections, and get referrals from new sources.
- Target the competitors of your successful customers. Your best prospects usually have the same characteristics of your best clients. They probably have similar business problems that need to be solved and similar economics. And you have a ready-made success story to share and demonstrate your expertise. Who are your clients’ competitors? These should be some of the first companies on your target prospect list. Research who the key decisionmakers and influencers are, and then make sure they know who you are and what you’ve done in their industry.
- Reevaluate your target account list — research opportunity triggers. Now look beyond the competitors of your best clients. What are the characteristics of your best customers? Who are the companies that share these characteristics? But don’t just focus on basic variables like vertical market, revenue size, etc. Look for businesses that have similar business problems that you can help solve. Then do a little research. Read their press releases and earnings statements, and listen to their investor presentations. Look for an opportunity “trigger” — an event, circumstance or stated problem in their business that you can leverage to tell your story.
- Deploy Inbound Marketing Tactics. The best way to find new leads is to have them find you first. Inbound Marketing is a methodology used to attract the attention of prospects using content creation — content that positions you and your business as a thought leader/subject matter expert/trusted advisor. Develop content that educates and informs. Start blogging to share your unique perspective and thought leadership. And then promote your content via social media. This may not yield results ove night, but as you build your audience, you will actually get your prospects to self-identify and “raise their hands”. When is the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. When is the best time to start Inbound Marketing? It’s the same answer. So if you don’t have an Inbound Marketing strategy, start one today.
- Leverage outbound tactics with content designed for inbound. Push the content that you’ve developed for your inbound strategy to all of the contacts in your marketing database via email. It's a great way to nurture your “not-ready-to-buy-yet” prospects and keep them engaged over an extended period of time. Make sure you also include your old “dead” leads. It’s amazing how fresh new content can breathe life into leads that have been dormant for months. That lead that you gave up on in 2012 may turn into your hot new opportunity that closes in 2015.
- Stay positive and work your plan with disciplined execution. When your leads have slowed to a trickle, it can be easy to get discouraged. I’ve never seen a successful discouraged salesperson. Stay focused. Stay disciplined. Work your plan. But don’t be afraid to start something new.It may be the tactic that opens the spigot to your sales pipeline.
Summer fun can coexist with a full pipeline. These ideas should help you keep things flowing.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published July 8, 2015 and has been updated.